New Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed pressured Gov. Kay Ivey and her staff to appoint his wife as Montgomery County Probate Judge, filling the position left vacant by Reed’s election, and Reed lobbied against the position being given to any of his mayoral opponents, multiple sources have confirmed to APR.
Late Tuesday evening, Reed responded to several questions from APR and also confirmed that he “requested” that his wife, Tamika, a lawyer currently employed with the Alabama Education Association, be appointed probate judge.
But while Reed characterized the request as a congenial, routine suggestion made only after Ivey’s office requested his input, three sources with knowledge of the exchange said Reed was “demanding” and “insistent” as he spoke with Ivey’s staff, and said he was particularly insistent that Montgomery attorney J.C. Love — one of Reed’s opponents in the mayoral race — not be given the position.
Two sources said Reed told the governor’s office that he would take it as a “personal attack” should one of his opponents be appointed.
Ultimately, after first choosing General Ed Crowell and later learning that he was too old under Alabama law to accept the position, Ivey appointed Love.
APR asked Reed specifically about the allegations related to his mayoral opponents, and specifically about Love. And again, Reed’s office essentially confirmed the rumors.
“Mayor Reed, elected officials, and members of the community, upon learning that former mayoral candidates Artur Davis, Ed Crowell, and JC Love were campaigning for the appointment, did stress his belief that the Probate Judge position should not be used as consolation prize for any of the mayoral candidates that ran for that post and lost,” a statement from Reed’s office read. “Mayor Reed and others also believed that picking such a candidate would politicize the appointment and undermine a merit based approach to the process which could cause unnecessary division.”
Sources with direct knowledge of the situation said Ivey’s staff members were flabbergasted by Reed’s demands and that lawmakers who were consulted during the process were particularly shocked that Reed would suggest his wife be appointed. They believed such an appointment would have created a clear conflict of interest between the mayor’s office and the probate office, which is responsible for conducting elections in the city and routinely handles tax and property issues in Montgomery.
But the request didn’t simply come from Reed, as noted in the statement sent by his office. Members of the Montgomery legislative delegation, including Sen. David Burkette and Reps. Kirk Hatcher and TaShina Morris, also called to encourage Ivey to appoint Tamika Reed.
With so many people involved, details of the situation quickly slipped out to members of the public and were making the rounds on social media within hours last week.
Reed’s office, however, defended the new mayor’s request, saying he was simply looking to make history.
“Mayor Reed, elected officials, and members of the community requested that attorney Tamika Reed be considered as his successor for Probate Judge,” the statement read. “Mayor Reed also offered the name of another well qualified African American female attorney who personally expressed her interest in succeeding him.
“Appointing the first African American female probate judge to serve in any of Alabama’s ten largest counties would’ve made a strong statement towards diversity and qualifications for both the county and the state.”
Reed’s office also disputed that the mayor was heavy-handed when dealing with Ivey’s office, and that the situation has created a riff between the two offices.
“Absolutely untrue,” the statement read. “Mayor Reed was told by Gov. Ivey’s administration, prior to his election, that his opinion on a potential successor would be a consideration given his record of service. He made his thoughts known and fully respects the Governor’s appointment authority.”